Electric car | What is an electric car ?
An electric car is a car that is 100% powered by electricity through its rechargeable batteries . Unlike hybrid cars which uses both electricity and gasoline , an electric car derived its power solely from electricity . Electric cars or EV (electric vehicles) as commonly known , a very critical component to the success of the electric car is the battery technology
Electric car | Advantages
Before we explore the battery technology available , lets look at its advantages . Some key and obvious advantages are
- Energy efficient . About 75% of the chemical energy in the batteries is converted to power the wheels unlike conventional Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) which does about 20% only
- Charging using household electricity . No necessity to look for a pump station
- Its Green energy and environmentally friendly . No carbon emissions . No pollutants .
- Not impacted by high oil prices . Immediate impact on savings on fuel
- Easy maintenance
- Performance . It delivers silent , quiet and smooth operation . Also has stronger acceleration than conventional engines
Electric car | Disadvantages
Some key disadvantages are as follows ;
- Long recharging time . Recharging a full battery pack may require anywhere between 4 to 12 hours eventhough the battery may achieve 80% of charged capacity in 30 minutes . Current gasoline powered vehicle takes minutes to re-fuel .
- Limited driving range or distance before recharging . Typically can support between 100 to 200 miles before recharging while conventional vehicles has capabilities of 300 miles before re-fueling
- High cost especially the batteries . Batteries may need to be replaced after many recharging as performance deteriorates .
- Weight and space . Batteries are heavy and occupy quite a substantial space . However several improvement been made recently which reduces the space and weight by half
Electric car | Battery Technology
One of the most important factor for the success of the electric car is the battery technology . Battery technology needs to be improved considerably to be able to store a great deal of energy and therefore providing longer range and mileage at the same time reduction in overall cost of the vehicle . Today , government around the world provides many incentives to encourage users to switch to electric or even hybrid cars to offset the initial cost of these vehicles .
Recently , Mitsubishi has just announced the development of its new electric vehicle motor system , which is smaller and lighter than its predecessor and comes with a built-in silicon carbide inverter . The space savings comes from the switch from silicon powered devices for the inverters to silicon carbide which allows the use of smaller chip due to its higher electric field breakdown voltages . The improvement to its permanent, neodymium magnet motor also helps to reduce space . With the saving in space , it means that Mitsubishi can allow a larger car or a more powerful car than its current i—MiEV vehicles .
Toyota also reported that they are able to reduce their Lithium-Ion battery weight and size by 50% and 60% respectively . The new battery now weighs 176 pounds and stores 4.4kWh compared to 352 pounds and 5.2kWhr .
Electric Car | Crash Test obstacles
One of the biggest hurdle for the electric car other than battery technology lies with the Federal highway crash tests , which is extremely strict and challenging . One way to bypass this stringent requirements would be to introduce a 3 wheeler electric car so that it qualifies as a motorcycle instead of a car . The second constraint can be alleviated by limiting the top speed to just 25 miles per hr so that it does not need to undergo the crash test . But these may not go down well with consumers
Electric car | Manufacturer and models
Several car manufacturers has already announced their electric cars and models . These include BMW with its Megacity , Mercedes Benz blue zero , Mini E , Renault Fluence , Smart ED and many more . Currently Japanese car manufacturers such as Nissan Leaf & Mitsubishi iMiev , still have the edge over other makers. We are also beginning to see other players like China getting into this market too . In fact we have a manufacturer from China , BYD announcing their participating in electric cars . BYD introduce their E6 and if they can deliver these electric vehicles as promised , they would be able to garner significant market share in the U.S .
In the U.S , we have Ford with its Focus and Chevrolet with its Volt . The Ford Focus EV comes with a 23kWh , high voltage lithium – ion batteries , with fuel efficiency ratings of 100MPGe (miles per gallon) . It has a regenerative braking system , capturing more than 90% of the energy loss during braking and divert it to recharge batteries . It requires a 3 to 4 hours charging time base on 240V charging station . Standard is 120V household outlet . As for the Volt , there are some reviews from user . For more report , kindly refer to Volt news report.